Thursday, April 10, 2008

Record Score! - Ape Real!

Akoya Afrobeat "Fela Dey / Wahala" 12" (Tip Of The Iceberg)
- My 2nd 12" from Akoya, and another assured pair of extended afrobeat jams. There are some great groups around the world doing the Afrobeat thing these days (Antibalas, Nomo, Chin Chin, Budos Band...) and they all pay close homage to the godfather of the genre, Fela Kuti, but i think Akoya really come closest to carrying on his legacy of sound, even more than son Femi Kuti & former partner in crime Tony Allen. Where other groups might imitate some of the Afrobeat tropes like call & response choruses and ringing horn sections, the Akoya Afrobeat takes a real traditionalist approach, and hammers through 15 minute workouts of that raw James Brown grunt, free swinging jazz, pidgin english, and polyrhythmic percussion.
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Andres "Moments In Life / El Ritmo De mi Gente! (Feat. Lady)" 12" (Mahogani)
- The upbeat A-side on this is a perfect track for climbing out of a deep, sleepy winter and meeting the day with a smile. I've heard some stuff from DJ Dez before, but it took this song to really make me stand up and notice. Moodymann's Mahogani label continues to indoctrinate me in the ways of Deep House.
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Theo Parrish "You Forgot / Dirt Rhodes" 12" (Sound Signature)
- Both tracks on this are long, sparse house grooves, with a decidedly slower BPM. The A-side caught my attention instantly with a very abstracted approach to the vocals by Genevieve and my man Jerry The Cat adding a nice live percussion bed to keep the track organic.
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Vampire Belt / Magik Markers - Split 7" (Not Not Fun)
Skullflower / Axolotl - Split 7" (Not Not Fun)
- These 2 7"s are my 2nd shipment from Not Not Fun's Bored Fortress 7" club. Not Not Fun continues to be one of the more interesting labels out there with their growing roster of DIY psych rock bands. The 1st shipment was a little disappointing by including less structured, more masturbatory noise from the likes of Thurston Moore, but on these 2 platters you can hear a lot more thought and creativity. I'd heard the Magik Markers & Skullflower before, & Vampire Belt & Axolotl keep pace as all 4 turn in loud, guitar-churning noise. Honestly, I haven't been in the right state of mind to give these the time they deserve, but I liked what I heard.

J Rawls "A Tribute To T.R.O.Y. / So Fly" 7" (Turntable Jazz)
- Finally got the vinyl for this tribute to one of the best songs ever made. J Rawls has been a solid member of the underground Hip Hop movement for the long haul, and he always comes solid with those jazzy head nodding beats for artists like Lone Catalysts, Blackstar, 3582, BJ Holmskillit, Dudley Perkins... Paying homage to Pete Rock's "They Reminisce Over You" is a pretty no-brainer way to get my money. I'm just a sucker every time for those Tom Scott horns, and even though J Rawls' version isn't terribly innovative, it's a nice, slightly jammier instrumental version. I held off ordering this from elsewhere because it's pretty non-essential and record labels are dumbing with their prices on 7"s. We've been getting a lot of plain white sleeve, minimal label artwork, 2 song 7"s from distributors with wholesale prices of $10+. Way to shit all over the people that want to support independent music & vinyl with your 900% mark-up guys.
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Doug Carn "Infant Tears" Lp (Black Jazz)
- This copy is beat, and crackles as much as it sings, but there's no denying the Carns. Plus, I always love the bold cover design of Black Jazz titles, and can get lost staring at the cover.

Jazz Liberatorz "Clin d'oeil" CD (KIF)
- A great album that I know nobody is going to care about. The Jazz Liberatorz, a trio of Hip Hop producers from France, have been putting out some nice little vinyl EPs since about 2000, usually featuring 2 vocal cuts & a couple of instrumentals. They've really got the Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Jazmatazz... thing down, and they also support some of my favorite emcees like T-Love, Apani B, J-Live, Sadat X... There's a little bit of quixotic battle underway, with the Jazz Liberatorz banging out solid tracks in a style that has mostly lost its relevance, but there's a few of us old men left that appreciate what they're doing. The astute amongst you might notice how hard the cover is aping the Black Jazz design, a nice nod, and a good design to bite.
(More Info & Sound Samples)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition "Tin Can Alley" Lp (ECM)
- Jack DeJohnette fell victim to some of that "funky" 80's jazz styling on this and his later material, but there is a track on here which features DeJohnette multitracking himself playing the drums, congas, timpani & organ which is another brilliant, atmospheric, ambient piece. DeJohnette is a fantastic drummer, but i love when he leaves the straight bop aside and gets abstract on the keyboards too.

Connie Crothers "Perception" Lp (Inner City)
- Jerry said he'd never seen this record before, and considering Jerry's photographic memory and the unfathomable number of records he's seen in his lifetime, that's something in itself. I was ready to pick this up before that though as it features a nice little piano-led trio with all originals composed by Connie Crothers. A lot of the songs are nearly straight-ahead solo piano pieces which isn't really my thing but there's a nice personal edge to it, neatly epitomized by Crothers writing her own liner notes.

The Red Garland Trio "Bright And Breezy" Lp (Jazzland)
- 80's reissue of an awesome 1961 recording. Red Garland along with Sam Jones & Charlie Persip give a seminar in making a trio sound like a big band. Every note counts, and there's so much soul infused into the hard bop sound that it wouldn't feel out of place a decade later. Easily my favorite rendition of "On Green Dolphin Street."

That last graphic is just me giving Pennsylvania a little love now that we're experiencing that golden moment before the humid summer sets in.

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